Wet Trail Guide

Wet Trail
Wet Trail
Wet Trail
Wet Trail
Wet Trail
Wet Trail

Land Manager Trail Closures

When a land manager closes a trail or trail system they are closed to all trail users. We ask that trail users respect all land manager trail closures. Land managers decide trail closures and have final authority. SORBA-CSRA does advise land managers of current trail conditions. Trails that are closed by the United States Forest Service (USFS) are done so to protect the trail. When the USFS officially closes a trail, which means the red gates at both trailheads will typically be closed, you can be ticketed if you ignore the trail closure and use the trail anyway! That information is posted on the SORBA-CSRA Facebook page, the CSRA Trail Conditions Facebook page, the CSRA Cycling Page, X (Twitter) and our website forum.

When are the Trails too Wet to Ride?

Even if trails are not officially closed we ask that you follow these guidelines to help preserve the integrity of our trails. As a general rule of thumb wait 24 hours in the summer and 48 hours in the winter after rain to ride a trail. However, there are several factors that have an impact on this rule of thumb. Some may extend it while others may reduce it.  

Some of those factors include composition of the soil, number of trail users, age of the trail etc. It’s some of these factors make the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) particularly vulnerable after a rain.

FATS is managed by the USFS and periodically closed because it gets the highest number of riders/usage of all the trails in our system. It also receives the highest number of trail users coming in from out of town. Trail users will tend to ride the trails if they are open, regardless of condition, once they have traveled to get here. By closing the trail it greatly minimizes the damage potential since the majority of trail users do respect the closure.

No other trails in our system are currently being managed by the land managers to that extent but that can change if the trails are not being used responsibly. 

What is too wet?

You should not be riding a trail if your bike is consistently leaving ruts in the trail. This is because longitudinal ruts slow or stop water from running across the trail. This can lead to erosion if the water starts running down the trail.

Water, not trail users, cause the majority of trail erosion. Responsible riding can help prevent those ruts and soil displacement that add to the water-based erosion that can follow.

Things to observe.

Check to see if you are leaving a heavy tread pattern as you are riding across large portions of the trail

Are there frequent muddy/wet areas?

What isn’t too wet?

Even on a trail that is 98 to 99% dry there still might be puddles or slightly muddy areas, meaning a mile of trail (5,280 feet) that is 98 to 99% dry might still have 50 to 100 feet of spots, dips, etc that are muddy or wet. 

Using some basic rules to travel through those sections is critical to not adding to trail damage until those sections are repaired/armored/etc or dry naturally.

Don’t travel around the puddles or mud, travel straight through them to prevent widening of the trail and further erosion 

Commit to turning back if you encounter excessively muddy or wet conditions!

What should I consider before riding?

Wet trails are much more tempting to ride when you’ve already invested time and energy getting to the trailhead. Make sure to check trail conditions BEFORE heading out.  

If you find your destination is too wet consider alternate riding locations with better drainage or head onto US Forest Service roads or even paved routes such as, Evans to Lock paved bike path, the North Augusta Greeneway, or Euchee Creek Greenway.

What are the impacts of riding wet trails?

The aftermath of trail users ignoring trail conditions and using the trails when they are too wet can be, but is not limited to:

premature trail erosion, unnatural widening of singletrack trails creating the potential for trail closures, additional work/expense for the volunteers maintaining the trails, it can affect the quality of the trail once it has dried out and some land managers have instituted seasonal closures of some trails due to damage.

What can I do?

Don’t use a trail if it is too wet.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent creating and maintaining these trail systems as well as hundreds of volunteer hours, so please help protect this valuable resource by using the trails responsibly.

Our Responsibility

Soft, wet, muddy trails are sensitive and as a trail using community we need to educate ourselves and others so we can protect this great resource. 

As trail users we should always make a conscious effort to preserve the trails we use. This includes an honest evaluation of the trail conditions and an effort to minimize damage to it.

If you encounter a local trail that is too wet (sometimes it seems as if enough time has passed and the trail should be dry but you encounter bad areas a couple of miles in) and want to report it so others will be aware of the trail conditions, please contact us at sorba.csra@gmail.com and we will get the word out.